Racquets Director’s Diary
Resumption of tennis activity
The good news is Roehampton Club will open its gates on 29th March. I am sure you are all raring to get back on the court after all this time. The LTA have confirmed the following outdoor tennis activity will be permitted:
- 1:1 Coaching
- Formally organised group sessions and coaching for adults and juniors (max group size and court limits to be confirmed)
The tennis team iscurrently preparing everything so the Club can open in the best possible way. All details and booking information will be communicated to the membership on Thursday 11th March. I would like to say thank you to all Members for their patience over this time and I am looking forward to seeing everyone back at the Club from 29th March.
Play Doubles like a Pro!
In order to become a good doubles player you must master the five game situations. Below I will highlight some of the keys things you should look to do in each situation.
Baseline to baseline
Your job here is not to try and win the point, but to keep it cross court, keep it deep and try and set your partner up at the net. Typically, you should go down the line 3 in 10 shots to make sure the opposing net player does not start coming across looking for the interception all the time. Use different trajectories and spins to make it uncomfortable for the opponents. During this cross court rally you are looking for short balls, that is your opportunity to move forward. When you move forward be aware of your positioning and what your partner at the net can/cannot cover.
It is not about serving your favourite serve or trying to hit aces. Again, it is all about setting up your partner at the net. The net player needs to tell the server where they want the ball so they can be effective with the volley – i.e. ‘serve into the body’ or ‘serve down the T’. That way the net player can plan their movements following the serve. If you are serving and getting a lot of balls off the return you are not serving effectively! If the server does get the ball back from the returner then thing about patterns. If the serve has moved the returner out wide, the first volley must go back where they came from. Try not to give the returner two forehands in a row. Don’t try and end the point with the first volley! Instead keep closing until you see an easier opportunity. Winners happen by the lack of distance between you and your opponent – the closer you get to them the less chance they have to react. If you’re serving and volleying then make sure your split step happens as the ball leaves the returners strings, don’t worry about getting to a certain part of the court. It’s when you split step not where that’s important!
Keep it low, keep it cross court. Look for patterns from your opponents. Try and talk to your partner after each point for 3-5 seconds only – where are you going to move? Where am I going to move?. If the returner’s partner knows you’re looking to return cross court low, then they can plan to come over and look for the next ball. Winners off first volleys are rare therefore when returning you should look to drive the return low crosscourt and then use the lob once you have drawn both players in. You can also hit lobs off the return, but they must go down the line over the net player’s head.
Approaching the net
The transition game is often a player’s weakest area. Players are good at the back, or good at the net. However, being able to deal with balls in between these areas will make you more effective approaching the net. So, spend time practicing in this area. Also note here that the ball you receive will relate to the ball you send. If you approach with a high bouncing ball, the ball will come back high, sending a low ball will result in a lower ball coming back. Sending an angle will produce an angled ball coming back. So, adapt your position at the net accordingly. If you are approaching and getting lobbed, you are sending the wrong type of ball!
Opponent approaching the net
Don’t panic, you want them to approach. The best place to hit the ball in this situation is low and through the middle of the court. Again, the lob can be useful here but don’t use it too early. Send lower shorter balls first to draw them closer to the net before sending the lob up. This will also give your partner at the net a chance to come across and intercept the low volley you are forcing your opponents to play.
Next time you step onto the doubles court, think about each game situation and highlight the ones you need to improve in order to take your doubles game to the next level.
This week I have added the following lessons to the online platform:
Remember that 70% of points in tennis are over within the first four shots, with many of them consisting of one shot, the serve! Therefore, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be accurate with your serve. In this lesson I demonstrate some drills you can do to improve your direction on the serve, along with some progressions. Just getting it in the box may not be good enough!
When to change direction
When players end up making unforced errors it is easy to blame bad technique or just not being good enough. However, most of the time they come from making bad tactical decisions. Here I explore what ball characteristics to look out for when deciding to change direction of the ball in singles. This will not only stop you from making unforced errors but teach you how to be more effective when you do choose to be more aggressive.